Research Programme

The Research Programme has four parts. It carries out advocacy to improve the implementation of laws and service delivery at local level; it promotes academic, peer-reviewed work about community-based paralegals, which is understudied in academic circles; it raises the profile of the effectiveness of community advice offices in order to persuade the government to fund them; and it collaborates with similar community justice initiatives in other African countries in order to share strategies and strengthen eachother’s work.

The basis for research is the computerised data system that holds more than 10,000 cases containing valuable primary information. The twenty paralegals at the advice offices record their cases and send them by email to CCJD each month, where they are collated and analysed using the computerised database. The database  provides a valuable source of information on current problems faced by rural communities when trying to access justice, and on the impact of community advice offices. It is regularly used by undergraduate, Masters and doctorate students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and throughout South Africa.

In 2015 CJD’s Director completed her PhD thesis on the ‘The Role of Community-based Paralegals in Community Restorative Justice in Rural KwaZulu-Natal’. In 2015 she co-authored the article Legal Empowerment as Social Entrepreneurship based on her research at CCJD’s Bulwer and New Hanover Advice Offices. 

In 2014, CCJD was commissioned by The National Alliance for the Development of the Community Advice Offices in South Africa (NADCAO) to carry out research to profile the Community Advice Office Sector in South Africa. We carried out fieldwork with community advice offices in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo through interviews with paralegals, management committee members, stakeholders and focus groups with clients and community members. The publication can be read here: Research Report to NADCAO

In 2014 CCJD produced a report for a funder describing our experience of working with traditional leaders on a 12-month project on women’s and children’s rights. The successes and challenges are outlined here: D G Murray Trust Learning Brief

Master’s research has been by Uduak Johnson on The Purposes and Uses of Monitoring and Evaluation in NGOs, using CCJD as a case study, while Emmanuel Ranganai wrote a Master’s thesis on The Role of Civil Society in Policy Implementation, again using CCJD as a case study. In 2011 graduate student Timothy Obaje completed a Masters on the Challenges and Benefits of Policy Networks when implementing labour policy, using CCJD as a case study. Phindile Hlubi’s Master’s thesis on the “The role of the Centre for Community Justice and Development in Indigenous Governance of Social Justice in Impendle, Kwa-Zulu Natal can be accessed at Indigenous Governance of Social Justice in Impendle. This focuses on the framework of access to justice by the people and explores aalyernative ways to deliver that justice.

Read an article here by CCJD’s former research director Karen Buckenham about the abuse of the elderly in KwaZulu-Natal. The article appeared in the Natal Witness in 2013.

Research Opportunities

Apart from criminal justice, a range of wider research areas flow naturally from the daily work of the advice offices: family law, maintenance, labour and social security matters, children’s rights, HIV/AIDS, dispute resolution, the interaction of European and customary African law, how long it takes for laws to be implemented and affect people, and the problems people experience at service points. CCJD’s cases offer valuable primary data for students of anthropology, social sciences, psychology, government and law, as well as policy-makers.

Since 2000, CCJD has conducted three-yearly evaluations of its work. These analyse trends in crimes, the impact of services, staff record-keeping and reporting, and set standards for performance. They consider whether the advice offices are fulfilling their intended purpose, and identify successful practices to implement in the poorly performing offices.

Other Resources

The CCJD resource centre contains a variety of material, such as its legal series booklets and fliers, books and research documents on local and international subjects, videos, newsletters, CD-ROM, reports, training manuals, archive documents, posters, pamphlets, media articles, statutes and educational materials.

If you are interested in conducting research at CCJD, please contact us at

Student Internships

CCJD uses the services of university students, both local and international, who join the organisation as interns. These students contribute by:

  • assisting with research and documentation
  • participating in the outreach activities of the advice offices
  • collecting and capturing data
  • assisting with training workshops for community members

If you are interested in being an intern at CCJD, please contact us at

We have recently begun a mentoring program for law students. If you are interested in learning about the work of paralegals and being mentored by them, email us at